Ben Larson (left) and Levi Blasingam (right) running through the muddy grass on their second loop of the cross-country course, which was modified to allow for social distancing.

In Short but Sweet Seasons, Student-Athletes Shine Bright

Cross country, soccer and tennis updates.

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 3:02pm
  • Sports

CROSS COUNTRY

The skies opened up for Vashon’s one and only home cross country meet on Thursday, March 4.

The Vashon High School Pirates and McMurray Middle School Mustangs fought through the rain and mud to come away with many firsts — new course records, a perfect score, and the first Mustang to finish a race shoeless.

Due to COVID restrictions, the six schools participating had to stay out of the home course’s usual challenging but tight trails, and instead use the full school properties to get in their 1.5 mile (middle school) and 5k (high school) races. This led to many shoe-sucking and slipping incidents but also allowed the home-course harriers to shine in how they responded to the challenges.

The first of the races led to two (not so surprising) results — a new school record by 7th grader and race winner Bodie Thomas, and a perfect score by the Mustang girls team.

Thomas, in his first cross country race, led from the start, finishing 24 seconds ahead of his competition, and leading his team to a second-place tie with Seattle Christian. Thomas was backed up by Josh Healey and Brent Calhoun, followed by six other Mustangs, many in their first XC race as well. Sixth-grader Jacob Lawrence was not the only runner to lose a shoe to the shoe-sucking mud, but the only one who heroically and smartly kicked off his other shoe so that he could finish unencumbered, ahead of other runners.

In the girls’ race, the Mustangs brought the first three runners across the line — Emily Harrington, Laurel Calhoun and Daisy Jones, creating a perfect score of six and winning the meet. They were followed by five other Mustangs, a number which will grow in the coming weeks as more gain their required practices and heal from injuries. Five of their eight runners were also experiencing their first XC race, but you could not tell from their effort and esprit de corps.

Parents, fans and coaches were completely soaked and chilled by the time the high school runners hit the slick course.

The Pirates, missing their two team captains to injury, ran to one course record and many personal bests.

Freshman Madeline Yarkin won the women’s race in a new course record, leading her short-staffed team of four through mud, finishing 12 seconds ahead of a Charles Wright senior. Yarkin was supported by Taylor Huffman and Amelia Medeiros.

The Pirate men finished third against the other five schools, led by senior Mead Gill, followed by freshman Ben Larson and junior Levi Blasingham, all under 20 minutes; they were followed by Hank McSheehy, Tyler Huffman, Clayton Langworthy and Dylan Fick.

While the meet was the first for the Mustangs, the Pirates had their first meet the week prior, running at Ft. Steilacoom. This week the two dozen Mustangs head to Titlow Park in Tacoma on Wednesday for their second meet, and the Pirates head to Bellevue on Friday.

Bruce Cyra, Middle School Cross Country Coach

(Picture credit to Slade McSheehy, shows Ben Larson, left; and Levi Blasingam, right, running through the muddy grass on their second loop of the course).

GIRLS’ SOCCER

The Vashon High School Girls’ Soccer team continues to dominate in the Nisqually League. On Tuesday, March 2, they played another home game, this time against Annie Wright. The whole team seemed comfortable and confident and easily gained possession of the ball, passing it amongst players looking for an early opportunity to score.

In just the 9th minute of the game, freshman midfielder Linnea Heuschert won the ball out of the air after Annie Wright’s goalie had cleared it. She passed the ball to senior forward, Payton Venturi, who moved around a defender before taking a shot that the goalie had no chance of stopping.

A little more than ten minutes later, Venturi repeated the same maneuvers, this time off an assist from sophomore defender, Myra Butler, and took the Pirates to a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Vashon remained relentless, and just two minutes after that, freshman midfielder Kate Spranger sent a long ball, switching to the left side of the field, that was picked up by junior forward and co-captain, Phoebe Wilke. Dribbling into the top left corner of the box, Wilke took a long shot that sailed over the goalie’s head, landing in the far corner of the net.

Before the end of the first half, Phoebe Wilke won a corner kick for the Pirates. Linnea Heuschert took the kick, sending a beautiful ball right in front of the goal. Payton Venturi timed her jump perfectly to head the ball in, securing the hat trick and taking the Pirates to a 4-0 lead.

Starting off the second half much like the first, Vashon maintained possession of the ball for the majority of play. After a couple of breakaways and shots on goal, Phoebe Wilke won another corner kick for the team. This time Linnea Heuschert sent the ball downfield to freshman defender, Liv Ormseth, who was ready to send the ball into the box. Kate Spranger was there to receive it and managed to turn and tap it in for another goal.

With Vashon now leading 5-0, coach Scott Nicolino began warming up players on the bench to give them some playing time. First to sub in was freshman goalie, Zoe Nowicki, who was put to the test early by an unusual breakaway from Annie Wright. Luckily, Nowicki dove for the ball and made her first save of the season.

Unfortunately, just a minute or so later, Nowicki, misjudging a kick after having the ball passed back to her by Ormseth, found herself head to head with an Annie Wright forward. Boldy charging, Nowicki missed the ball and took down the player right outside the box. After conferring with the assistant, the center ref awarded Annie Wright a free kick in a dangerous position. Stepping up to the ball, their player was able to send the ball neatly into the upper left-hand corner taking the score to 5-1.

Obviously still feeling confident in the game, Nicolino continued to sub in players off the bench, giving freshmen midfielders Alex Waterworth, Kaely Miller, and Cassidy Poole valuable playing time. Junior midfielder Cait Jeffcoat and freshman keeper Ivy Staczek also got time on the field. Senior goalie and co-captain, Tamsen Henry, also enjoyed subbing in as a defender, disrupting plays and continuing to lead her team, shouting encouragement and directions almost non-stop throughout the game.

Vashon ended on a high note, scoring one last goal towards the end of the second half. On a very heads-up play, junior forward, Franki Brown, intercepted an attempted clearance by Annie Wright. She then passed it smartly to freshman midfielder, Kaely Miller, who lightly touched it through to sophomore midfielder, Vera Moses. Known for her huge and accurate boot, Moses did not disappoint as she sent a ball in just beyond the goalie’s reach, finalizing Vashon’s win over Annie Wright 6-1.

The Pirates traveled to fields in Fort Steilacoom to take on Life Christian Academy on Thursday, March 4th. They secured their biggest win yet, defeating the Eagles 8-0. Goals were scored by juniors Franki Brown and Phoebe Wilke, with two goals apiece. Senior, Payton Venturi and sophomore Vera Moses, also added to their season totals. Scoring their first goals for the Pirates were freshman, Kaely Miller and junior, Cait Jeffcoat.

The team is eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to be seeded as first in the league as regular season play concludes this week with a home game against Cascade Christian, Thursday, March 11th. Kick-off is at 5:45 and fans can listen to Voice of Vashon’s live commentary provided by Greg Martin and David Leonhardt.

— Jenni Wilke, parent

BOYS’ TENNIS

Vashon Tennis continues its good fortune.

After a run of incredibly close matches, the Pirates finally had a little breathing room against Annie Wright (AW), winning 3-1. The lone loss was at #1 Singles where Evan Kepplar lost a close match to AW’s representative to State from last year. The score was 6-8 and could easily have gone either way. In #2 singles Zach Van Dusen had a strong win to stay unbeaten in league play. Vashon then swept the Doubles, with John Maciejewski/Danny Baldinger winning 8-4, Hatcher Freda/Finn Hawkins 8-2 and Colin McIntyre/Davis Rice capping the match off 6-0. All the matches were shortened due to time constraints which made for some unusual scores and endings.

The next match for the Pirates was against their long-time tennis rival Charles Wright (CW). The match was again at Galbraith and again shortened due to lack of time. CW has a small but strong team with some experienced and skilled players. For the first time this year, the Pirates dropped both #1 and #2 singles matches. Evan Kepplar and Zach Van Dusen both lost their opening sets and then couldn’t quite come back in close tiebreakers for the second set.

Playing in an unusual third singles match, Colin McIntyre stayed sharp after a long hard wait and delivered what turned out to be an important 10-1 win. The Pirates doubles have been improving all season and delivered the two wins necessary to take the match. In #2 Doubles Danny Baldinger/Finn Hawkins played their best match of the season winning 6-2, 6-2. In a wild match at #1 Doubles John Maciejewski/Lucas Schoenberg got off to a great start taking the first set 6-3 then went to a series of back and forth tiebreakers, losing the first 13-15 and winning the second 14-13 to seal the win.

Once again, the Pirates pulled out the narrowest of 3-2 wins to move to 4-0 for the season.

Next week the Pirates will face a couple of tough rematches with their closest Nisqually League competitors: CW on Thursday and Cascade Christian on Friday. The following week the Pirates have one final match and prepare for the season-ending tournament on Friday and Saturday.

— Pat Mulvihill, Coach


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